Album Review: Federico Durand - Pavel

It doesn’t seem like very long ago that I was putting together a reflection on a new album from Federico Durand—and that’s kind of the case. Durand, one of my favorite contemporary ambient/experimental composers—released two albums in 2016, the second of which arrived in October.

In an effort to raise funds to support his upcoming tour of Japan (also, Federico, I know you’ll read this, so please consider coming to Minnesota), the gawd has recently returned with Pavel, a five song EP available through his Bandcamp site.

While Winter Garden was a series of short, ambient pieces based around tape loops and other less traditional instrumentation, Pavel takes things in a different direction, with Durand favoring his interest in acoustic string instruments, albeit heavily manipulated through looping devices, as well as various bells and chimes, which call to mind his work with Melodia.

I think it goes without saying that Pavel is an incredibly reflective effort from Durand. It’s short—of the five tracks included, two are rather lengthy and two are very short, and despite not overstaying its welcome, the music found within the confines of this effort unfold slowly, deliberately, and most importantly, hypnotically.

Hypnotic, and transcendental, are things that Durand excels at within his pieces, as well as evoking strong emotional responses, and while Pavel, is a rather brief affair, there is no shortage of emotional pull throughout: the sense of whimsy and wonder that runs through “La cesta de mimbre,” the bittersweet nostalgia in the titular piece, and the somber longing found on the effort’s final track, “El hechizado.”

Pavel is Durand’s third release within the last year, which is pretty impressive; and what is more impressive is his ability to continue to push his sonic ideas forward with each effort. An album like last year’s Through The Mirror, for example, focused on very warbled and murky loops, which is a stark contrast to the clear, focused, and intricate designs found on Pavel.

Durand himself looks at the work as a musical approach to traditional children’s stories—meaning they are both “innocent and eerie at the same time.” It’s an interesting juxtaposition, but one that he balances well, finding the spaces in between the comforting and unnerving.

Pavel is out now.